"Work is not where you go, it’s what you do" But not in Luxembourg?

Cisco I 10:00 am, 9th September

In today’s hybrid work world, it is no longer enough to solve the challenges of remote work or support a safe office re-entry. It’s about finding solutions to not just recover in the face of change, but to thrive and innovate for sustainable work cultures and employee experiences.


According to Cisco, we are in the midst of a fundamental rather than a gradual change. "It’s a revolution, not just an evolution", says Renaud Persiani, the recently appointed Country Manager for Luxembourg at Cisco.


"Not too long ago", he says, "European work regimes were rather conservative, in Luxembourg as well. For most European managers, office work was almost mandatory - also for employee control. Hybrid work was seen as a luxury, a benefit for those who could manage their work from home every now and again. But since the pandemic, hybrid work has clearly gone from nice-to-have to must-have".


Indeed, Luxembourg and other European employees found a new rhythm and productivity working remotely, and they are not going back to the way they worked before. "If you look at how many hours we spent to commuting in Luxembourg, you could only conclude that our productivity could improve. Now, no-one will spend two hours in traffic for no reason anymore. The future of work will be definitively hybrid", says Renaud Persiani.   


Rethink the office

A 2020 Cisco study proved that 90% of the Luxembourgish workforce no longer wishes to spend as much time at the office as previously. They want to keep the flexibility they got used to during the pandemic. "Today, work is not where you go, it’s what you do", Persiani claims. A more recent survey by Eurofound[1] confirms that the majority of workers in the EU have a preference for working from home at least occasionally (if there were no COVID-19 restrictions), with the most popular preference being a hybrid way of working (32%).


As we evolve in the hybrid world of work, we will need to adapt both the home and corporate offices: more ergonomic equipment, appropriate connectivity, collaboration tooling and cybersecurity for the remote worker, and equipment allowing inclusive collaboration and meetings at the office, giving everyone equal voice.


Before the pandemic 95% of space was allocated to individuals. This is going to change as we rethink the purpose of our real estate to be centers of collaboration focused on innovation, connection and collaboration.


Rethink work culture

But the hybrid work revolution isn't just about the enabling technologies that make hybrid work practical, it is also about personalization and empowering a culture  of choice. "The pandemic has given rise to a new cultural norm of how work is done today", says Renaud Persiani. "Secure mobile devices allo us to roam and are now powerful enough for us to work anywhere effectively. Collaboration tools enable remote teams to work together as if they were in a room. And advances in networking such as 5G and Wi-Fi 6 are blurring the line between home and office networking experience, much like streaming movies at home are theater business model. Employees won't all be remote on the same day, at the same time. They will keep participating from their kitchen table, their car, or their favorite coffee shop, so our tools and practices must adapt. Cisco's technology enables collaboration and human connections regardless of location. Work in the hybrid era is work in flex mode."

However, many European businesses are still figuring out what "‘hybrid" means for them, and how they can adapt to this new trend to remain effective. For most companies, the introduction of hybrid working will require a significant shift in the work culture and developing new policies and practices. Workstyles will drive how employees choose where they work, how they work, and when they work.?But choices have consequences. To make hybrid work work, this culture of choice must be rooted in accountability, trust and discipline. And the modern manager will play an important role in the transition to this hybrid and also inclusive work. 

Rethink job market

Moreover, the employee experience as a result of this shift, will be crucial in a renewed war for talent. Until recently, looking for a job was highly location specific but those  geographical barriers have now vanished. The hybrid work revolution opened job markets to the most qualified candidates no matter where they were located - literally around the world. This is an advantage for building inclusive and diverse teams and finding top talent wherever they are, and underscores that career success is no longer tied to being at headquarters. "Today, our work organisation is more transparent”, says Renaud Persiani. "The output quality is what matters now, more than hours spent at the office. In the longer run that will certainly help to retain talents in Luxembourg too.”


Rethink cross-border agreements

Still, the country manager believes there are a few institutional and administrative constraints that can restrain the expansion of hybrid work. "There is a limit to this new trend in Luxembourg", he says. He notes that "since the beginning of the pandemic, the new flexibility has allowed cross-border workers to increase the share of telework without fiscal impact. But from July onwards, the 200,000 Belgian, German and French workers who, before the crisis, used to cross the border every day will have to adjust their number of teleworking days if they want to avoid being penalised fiscally. Unless some new agreements are reached between Luxembourg and its neighbouring countries …".


Only time will tell if the ‘great resignation’ that started in the US during the post-pandemic era will spread to other economies.

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